Category Archives: Imported

Summer Garden Wrap-up 2017

Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

This past spring the garden moved to the new property.  We’re still in the process of renovating the house and working on cleaning up the property, and honestly, I had reluctantly come to the conclusion that this summer might be a good year to take a break from the cutting garden.  With so many big projects ahead of us, it felt silly to take the time to put in a garden.  I blurted this all out to Justin one afternoon to which he replied, “Can you use the old raised beds at the back of the new property?  What can we do to make the garden less work for you this summer?  Would an automatic drip system help?”  Have I mentioned I’m married to the best man that ever walked the planet?  No mention of the frivolousness of a cutting garden in the midst of the biggest project we’ve ever tackled; just him asking how he can help me achieve something that makes me happy.

“Yes, the beds, the automatic drip system…that would all be wonderful”

So I kicked things into high gear and got the long neglected beds cleaned out, while my fellas installed my new drip system.  By the end of  April all the seeds were tucked away, and all my dahlias transplanted to their new home.

Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

By the first week of July the garden was thriving.  The automatic drip system needed a little tweaking; it took us a month to figure out exactly how long to run the drippers, and unfortunately in that time I lost all but one of my eucalyptus starts, and all of my Bulpeurum plants.  Other than those two casualties the garden did well in it’s new home.

I planted Cupcake cosmos for the first time this year and they started off beautifully!  Unfortunately, the aphids got to them and they struggled after that.  I’ve been growing cosmos for years and I have never… never had any trouble with aphids.  I was totally surprised.  I treated them with Sevin dust, which took care of the aphids, but the cosmos never totally bounced back and thrived.  I continued to get some small blooms here and there, but nothing like the harvest I’m used to getting from my cosmos.

Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

The one thing I will remember about the summer of 2017 is the heat!  We saw temperatures soar to 111 degrees, and streaks of 100+ degree heat that lasted almost 2 solid weeks.  Even with consistent watering, that kind of heat is hard on flowers.
Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

This is what the garden looked like at the height of the season with everything in bloom.  Every morning when I’d walk out to harvest flowers, the hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies would be swarming the flowerbeds!Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

The purple/red foliage that you see in this next bouquet is Red Spike Amaranth.  I always grow Amaranth but this was the first year I’ve grown the Spike variety.  At first the color of the Red Amaranth was stunning; everything I’d hoped it would be, but as the temperatures soared the beautiful red color faded to a muddy green color.  I was so disappointed!  It’s hard to predict how heat will affect the color of a plant, and the only way find out is to try.  Now I know, Red Amaranth doesn’t work with our hot summer temps.  Next summer I’m going to plant Johnny’s Red Rubin Basil and hope it gives me the red/purple foliage I’ve been trying to obtain.  Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

This is the first year I’ve grown Feverfew and I am so in love with it!!  It is the sweetest looking flower and it lasts forever in a vase.  The only drawback to the Feverfew is it’s scent. It does have a slightly odd smell.  Fortunately it’s not overpowering, and truthfully the smell doesn’t really bother me too much.  Besides, I usually stick a little basil in my all my arrangements which pretty much covers up any other scent.Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

 

I also planted Echinacea for the first time this summer and I love, LOVE it!  The light purple flower you see behind the Echinacea, is Lemon Mint Monarda (which is a type of Bee Balm).  I started the seeds in trays and transplanted them once they were big enough. I was surprised by how underwhelmed I was by the Lemon Mint.  It’s probably just my personal preference, but I didn’t love it in any of my arrangements.  I don’t think I’ll bother growing it again.  There are too many flowers that I love, and I don’t want to waste garden space on something that’s just so-so.  Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

The Black Knight Scabiosa was another summer stunner!  It just popped in every arrangement and the rich, dark color played so well with all the other flowers in the garden. The fantastic news about Scabiosa is that it re-seeds readily, so once you establish it in your garden it will come back year after year.  Next summer I’d like to add the white and salmon colored varieties to the garden

Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

I finally had a gorgeous crop of Zinnias this year!  I almost always loose my Zinnias to fungus but thanks to my new drip irrigation system they thrived all summer long. Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

I planted both Giant Lime Zinnias and Queen Lime Blush Zinnias.  Looking back that was probably overkill.  I had too many greenish colored zinnias.  In the future I’ll just stick with the Queen Lime Blush zinnias because they are dreamy!  During the hot summer they’re mostly a bright green color with just a hint of blush in the center, but as fall approached and the nights got cooler the red tones really came forward!  Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

This is what the Queen looked like this fall.  Aren’t those colors unreal?!  Garden Wrap-up | InAnOrchard

Next summer my goal is to focus on my dahlias.  This year my dahlias were okay but not as beautiful and bountiful as I know they can be.  Because I got the garden in late this time around, I didn’t take the time to amend the soil like I usually do, and for the most part the flowers didn’t seem to mind too much.  But that wasn’t the case with the dahlias.  They need a little extra love, better fertilizer, and a better support system to keep them from flopping over and breaking at the base of the plant.    Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

I still got some beautiful buckets of dahlias!  The Cafe Au Lait were stunning as usual.  My Cafe was one of the few dahlias that I successfully dug up, divided and re-planted.  For years I’ve only had one plant but now I have two healthy and thriving plants.
Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

I just love the look of Sage leaves tucked into my bouquets!  They remind me of Lamb’s Ear, such soft, velvety textures.  Next year I plan to expand my greenery selection once again.  Foliage with interesting colors and textures are the key to a really interesting flower arrangements.Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

And that’s the summer wrap up for 2017!  Currently I’m working hard in the garden getting my beds prepped for spring.  If all goes as planned this will be the first year that I will have a crop of spring flowers!  I’m getting ready to plant Larkspur, Nigella, Ornamental Kale, Buplerum, Canterbury Bells, Sweet Peas, and Iceland Poppies seeds.  I’ll try to keep you all updated on this new experiment :)  So long from the garden my friends! Summer Garden | InAnOrchard

 

 

Clark’s Fork

Tent camping | InAnOrchard

I’m a creature of habit.  I like the traditions we’ve formed over the years, and one of my favorites was taking our annual summer trip, and staying in the funky cabin near Pinecrest lake. I liked lounging by the lake, eating soft serve ice cream cones from the Snack Shack, hikes around the lake, movie watching under the stars,… I love it all and I never wanted things to change, ever.  So when Justin suggested we try something new this summer I was hesitant (read: being stubbornly childish).  Why mess with something that’s already so perfect?

“Babe, don’t you think the kids would love a chance to go tent camping?  Do something different this time? Give them a real camping experience?”

We decided to get the kids input.  So I asked them, “Hey kiddos! Would you rather go to the cabin this summer and play in the lake, watch movies, and sleep in real beds?!  OR, go tent camping?”

All four of them in unison “GO TENT CAMPING!!”

So that’s what we did.

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

We found a nice spot at Clark’s Fork with a little creek that trickled by the campsite.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

The kids spent hours playing in that tiny creek.  Finding things to float, wading around, getting muddy, building little dams. Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

The boys had their own camping haven that they stocked with new comic books and flashlights.

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

We had campfires each night with different treats to enjoy.  The first few nights we did S’mores, but as a surprise, I also brought a bag of potatoes and let the kids roast them in the coals. We fished them out of the fire, smeared them with butter, and hit them with a good sprinkling of salt.  I am here to testify that hot, slightly smokey flavored, coal roasted potatoes, are the best potatoes a person can eat.  Period.Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Jude used our leftover baked potatoes to make fried potatoes for breakfast the next morning.Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

By the second day, I must confess, tent camping in the Sierras had won me over completely.  Sure, at night I missed the hot shower and sleeping on a real bed but…the fun and the memories were totally worth a little discomfort.  Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Justin hung a hammock so he could stretch out and enjoy a little reading in the afternoon but Miss P claimed the it as her own personal swing.
Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

The meadows were stunning.  Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

In the afternoons Miss E preferred mom and dad’s big bed for some light reading (do you see the grime on those jean?!  Oh my word, there is nothing like mountain dirt. It gets EVERYWHERE, all.the.time.)Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Grandpa and Grandma W. came up one of the days to celebrate Justin’s birthday and to do a little hiking and fishing.
Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

After such a wet winter the river was running very fast and it was hard to find a bank to fish from.  Finally, after dinner we wandered across the meadow and found the perfect fishing spot!Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Grandpa W. was the only one who manage to snag a fish and sadly, it was a wee little fish so it got sent back down the river.Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

Tent Camping | InAnOrchardSo, a few things I learned: keep the kids warm at night!  It’s way better to bring too many blankets than to not have enough.  Even though the afternoons got hot, the temperatures really dip at night and cold kids don’t sleep soundly.  Also, next time I’m bringing one of those solar shower units.  Clark’s Fork is a beautiful campground but there are no showers.  I found that I could handle sleeping on an air mattress each night, but man, I need a shower now and again.

Tent Camping | InAnOrchard

 

At the end of the trip as we headed back down the mountain I asked the kids, “Well, are you guys ready to go back to the little cabin next year or will it be tent camping again?  What did you like better?”

One again, all in unison “TENT CAMPING!”

You know what?  That’s just fine by me…

 

Celebrating Baby

I’m still playing catch up on the old blog…hope you don’t mind!  This September Jessica and I had the privilege of throwing a baby shower for our sister-in-law Angela.  Angela and Elliot (my husband’s youngest brother) were expecting their first child this fall; a baby girl.  My mother-in-law Mary, very graciously offered to host the shower in her beautiful backyard.  Which was fitting, because almost 2 years earlier, Elliot and Angela were married in that same backyard.

Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchardThe stunning dahlias came from Kelley Farms, who spoiled me with buckets of amazing peach and cream colored flowers.  I arranged them in simple sage and cream pitchers.

Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

We had feared a hot and still evening (as September evenings are known to do around these parts) but thankfully the night ended up being so pleasant.
Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Jess had the idea of filling white balloons with gold polka dot glitter and having them floating around the party.  I love how playful and sweet they looked.

Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

A few years back Jess and I went to a friend’s baby shower and en lieu of shower games they asked people to fill out a “Wishes for Baby” card.  I loved the idea, and so Jessica went about designing this gorgeous card which matched the party invitations.  Each one of the guests took a few moments to fill out the card for Angela to enjoy reading later, and someday hopefully her daughter will read them too and know how well she is loved by so many people!
Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Because we knew it would be a warm evening we served iced coffee and ice water.Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

The girls were so excited to be at the party and to wear their matching party dresses (naturally my daughters aren’t wearing any shoes).  These girls have been eagerly awaking the arrival of a baby girl cousin FOR EVER.  Little miss had celebrity status even before she was born!
Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Lest you are under the mistaken impression that they are little ladies.  Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

And here they all are with their (and I quote) “favorite Aunt”.Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Vintage Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

We served strawberry, and Nutella mouse parfaits with a layer of sweetened pretzel crust; along iced oatmeal shortbread cookies, cream puffs, salted almonds, and fresh fruit.Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

I think the girls ate a dozen cream puffs each.  Miss E ended the night with a terrible stomach ache (silly girl).Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Friends and family began to arrive as the sun started to set.Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

It was also Jessica’s idea to swag lights behind Angela to provide a some extra lighting after dark.Vintage Baby Shower | InAnOrchard

Aunt Angela had lots of helpers at present opening time, more than she needed that’s for sure ;) Vintage inspired Baby Shower | InAnOrchardHappily I can now report that sweet little baby girl has arrived, she is healthy and beautiful and so well loved!

Summer Pinecrest Trip {2016}

It’s nearly November but I couldn’t let another week pass without sitting down to write about our trip to Pinecrest.  It’s become a summertime tradition that the kids look forward to so much, and I want them to be able to read about our trips to the cabin, so for the sake of keeping memories…

This past July, over the week of Justin’s birthday, we loaded the minivan up and headed to the Pinecrest cabin.  We’ve been so fortunate to be able to rent the same cozy cabin for 4 summers now, in fact it hardly seems like summer if we don’t make it to the lake!

I packed all the really important things for myself, library books, embroidery, and of course flowers from the garden.
Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We woke up the first morning on Justin’s birthday.  He got up early to make us all a special breakfast.Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

His famous chorizo breakfast burritos that we all happily gobbled upPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Miss P is the Queen of bedheads
Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We tagged along with Justin as he did a round of disc golf Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Miss E spent the entire trip diligently recording all our comings and goings in her new journalPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Of course it wouldn’t be Justin’s birthday without homemade berry pie.  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We enjoyed pie and coffee from the back deck of the cabin that evening.  After dark we hunkered down and watched Five Mile Creek episodes and relived my childhood :)  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

The next morning Grandpa and Grandma Wolfe, Uncle Jared and Aunt Jess and the cousins came up to spend a day on the lake with us.  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

You can never have too many floatation devices Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

She loved the water, but every once in awhile the coldness of the lake would catch up with her, and she’d need to spend some time bundled up in beach towels. Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

These girls thought it was the best fun to get soaking wet in the lake and then roll in the gritty, dusty sand.  Their mothers cringed at the thought of all the sand they’d need to rinse from their hair later that eveningPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We rented a few canoes and everyone took turns paddling around the lakePinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

This photo makes me laugh!  I can’t remember what kind of comments were being shouted from the shore but it obviously got Grandma pretty animated and Grandpa laughing

Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Even Miss P got a turnPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Uncle Jared stayed bone dry until he reached the shore :)  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

The $2.99 floats I bought from Target earned their keepPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We brought everyone back to the cabin, threw kids into tubs and showers, and got everyone changed into clean, dry clothes.  The men went to pick up pizza and we enjoyed a fine night filling our bellies with good pizza and watching the sun set behind the trees.  The cousins headed back down the mountain but Grandpa and Grandma W stayed the night and spent most of Monday at the lake with us again.Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We spent our whole vacation lounging at the cabin or the lake.  Normally we try to take some hikes but on the very first day of our trip, Miss E got a bad blister on the back of her heel, and G ended up leaving home with only flip flops…so hiking was no longer an option.Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Is there anything better than soft-serve Snack Shack ice cream cones?Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

The last night of vacation we packed a picnic dinner.  We swam at the lake until late, and had a small BBQ while we waited to watch a movie at the Pinecrest, Movie Under the Stars amphitheater.  Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We took a moment to snap a few pictures of kiddos.  I love those happy sun-kissed faces!Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

I really, really love these pictures of the boys

Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

Sometimes I think they’re more like puppies than boysPinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchard

We huddled together eating popcorn and watching The Secret Life of Pets (which was a big hit with all the kids).  When the movie ended we loaded sleepy kids up in the van, headed back to cabin to throw our luggage in the car, and took the long drive back down out of the mountains.Pinecrest 2016 | InAnOrchardAnother beautiful summer by the lake.  Another year of fun in the funky cabin.

The Big News…

I cruelly left my last post with a big teaser and then promptly disappeared for nearly two months!  It wasn’t intentional but sometimes these things do happen.

Anyway, the big news is we’re moving!  But not to worry we aren’t going far.  Just next door in fact.  This past July we signed the papers to purchase the three acre plot next door to our property.  It features a one-hundred-year-old, charming house that is perfectly situated on top of a hill surrounded by trees, it also has a very large shop, a gorgeous view off the back of the property and… lots of junk.  So much junk; inside and out and all over the property.  Did I mention that it happens to be the neighborhood eyesore?
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

But nothing that a lot of hard work won’t fix.  Really if you can look past all the abandoned cars and piles of rubble, it’s a gem of a home and the sweetest little setup anyone could ever wish for.  It’s on a hill for crying out loud!  For those of you who aren’t familiar with our area, we live in a giant valley.  It’s flat everywhere.  When I drive over the freeway overpass my kids get excited, that’s how flat it is around these parts.

Needless to say we have a lot of work ahead of us and we alternate between feeling so excited and feeling so overwhelmed.  But I thought I’d give you a brief tour of the house (soon I hope to post pictures of the property and shop).  These picture s were all taken over a month ago so things have already changed but for now they will have to do!

So, lets begin with the font door.  You walk in through this charming front door which I’m hoping to keep and paint a fun color (maybe yellow?).  I like all the carvings and the oval glass; I think it really fits the house.

The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the view you are greeted with; the living room area and a view of the staircase.  The doorway at the bottom of the stairs leads to a small bedroom, and the doorway to the right of picture is the downstairs bathroom. There was a lot of stuff left in the house when the previous owners relocated.  If you can believe it these pictures don’t show half of the stuff that was left behind.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Still standing at the front door, if you look to your right, you will see what will eventually be our dining area, the kitchen, and the walk-in pantry.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The kitchen was gutted before we took over the house; it was an edition that for some reason includes an indoor fire-pit??  As much as the boys are lobbying to keep the indoor fire-pit I think it will be one of the first things to go.  Obviously we’re starting from scratch here in the kitchen (actually every room in the house is from scratch) so there are a lot of big decisions to make here.  Because the home is older and has a farmhouse feel to it, we’d like to keep that look as we update the whole house.

The Hill House | InAnOrchard

That is the side door that leads out to a rundown garage.  The very large, convenience store fridge has since been moved and the entire kitchen is empty. The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the downstairs bathroom, which the previous owner had begun to redo but hadn’t made very much progress by the time he decided to move.  It’s decent sized but long and narrow which is proving to be a little challenging as far as layout is concerned.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the downstairs bedroom that is right off the base of the staircase.  Initially this room seemed like it was in the best shape and would require the least amount of work but as we were taking out the flooring we noticed some water damage behind the bead-board so all of that had to come down. The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The kids love this hand-carved heart light switch so I think it will stay. The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Here we go up the narrow staircase.  The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Directly to the left of the stairs is the very large,and very scary upstairs bathroom.  This is a space that has loads of potential but it’s going to take a lot of work to unlock that potential.  While the bathroom is large, the huge window and low ceilings are tricky to plan around.  Where to put the shower, and the vanity, and the mirrors?  How do we create and maximize much needed storage?
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The large picture window will have to go.  Who puts a giant window in their upstairs bathroom anyway??  We’re kicking around the idea of dividing this room in two, but we’ll see.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

From the bathroom you can see the length of the upstairs hallway.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Sections of the hallway walls were removed to install builtin storage.  Those will need to be designed and installed.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the largest bedroom in the house and was meant to be a master bedroom.  Justin and I considered using it for our room, but it’s not connected to a bathroom and it’s upstairs in “kid central”.  In the end we decided to have the girls share this room.  There are a lot of skylights in this room, which are sort of nice because they let more light in the room, but they create a LOT of heat for a westward facing room.  Still trying to decide what we want to do with the skylights.
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Directly across the hall is a second bedroom that will become J’s room.  It has a small closet and a window that faces east.  I love the charm of the upstairs bedroom.  All the cozy nooks and corners.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The Hill House | InAnOrchard

At the end of the hall is the third and last bedroom which will be G’s room.  This window faces the front of the property.  The upstairs bedrooms are all in pretty good shape.  Painting, framing the windows, and adding trim are the extent of the work that needs to be done to those rooms.  The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Heading back downstairs there are three doorways at the very center of the house.  The middle door leads the back the house.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

I love this little builtin cupboard and I think it will look really nice painted.  The shelves are shallow so it’s not practical from a storage stand point but they add character (which is important!).
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

I think this back room was at one point the kitchen, but we’re going to use it as a laundry room/sewing room.  At first I wanted to keep some of the cupboards but as we started really looking at them, we realized they aren’t quality cabinets and rodents had been living in them for the last year….so out they came.
The Hill House | InAnOrchard

This is the same room looking out to the hallway that leads to the living room.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

The ceiling is paneled with old wooden drying racks and I actually really love the look.  I’d like to take them down and give them a little TLC, maybe some whitewashing before we rehang them?  Maybe I’m crazy but I also like this lamp shade.  I think I could work with it; do a little paint and fabric makeover.   The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Most of the doors and hardware seem to be original to the house and I’d like to keep as many of them as I can salvage.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

Sorry this next picture is so blurry, it was getting steadily darker and my camera was having trouble focusing.  This is another hallway that connects the “sun room” to the rest of the house.  The sun room is and addition to the house and is in rough shape.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

It’s got potential but it need so much work inside and out.  We’d like to eventually convert this into a master bedroom/bathroom suite but for now Justin and I will use the small downstairs bedroom.The Hill House | InAnOrchard

I love the beams and the vaulted ceiling!  I think this could be a really lovely master bedroom with nice windows and a little sitting area.  Some place tucked in the back house to provide a little peace and quiet.The Hill House | InAnOrchardAnd that’s the house tour for now!  I can already tell that it’s going to be a challenge to keep up with the house progress but I will try to be better about doing house posts (posts in general!).

I can’t wait to see this house take shape and have it feel more like a home and less like a construction zone ;)

Thanks for coming by, for your patience during quiet times here on the ol’ blog.

See you soon, April

Turning Three

My sweet girl, you were so excited about your third birthday.  It’s hard, when you’re just a little thing, to figure out how Birthdays work.  Everyone else was having birthdays, opening presents, blowing out candles, eating cake…and every time you would ask, “Will it be my birthday now?  Tomorrow?  When will it be my birthday?”

But finally, at long last your birthday arrived.  Daddy woke you up early and took you to breakfast.  You had a hard time shaking off the sleepiness while you ate your special pancakes.
Turning Three | InAnOrchard

When you got home from breakfast I had all your presents wrapped and waiting on the coffee table so you would see them right when you walked in the door.

Turning Three | InAnOrchard

We let you open a few small presents right away, and saved your bigger gifts for after dinner when Grandma and Grandpa W. would arrive.  You gasped and clutched your Hello Kitty chapstick rings, and positively beamed when you opened your very own bag of Jelly Beans.  Your Daddy glanced over at me and said, “Sheesh, were there no small bags of jelly beans at Target?”  I just grinned sheepishly and shrugged.

Turning Three | InAnOrchard

We filled up the pool and you spent nearly all day in your swimsuit.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

Your were a generous little soul and shared your jelly beans with big sis.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

The next important thing on the to-do list was the cake.  You had been talking about and planning your cake for months!  Turning Three | InAnOrchard

We bought large and small gumdrops from the big bins at the grocery store.  We fished the tiny cookie cutters out of the big box of cutters and you and your sister helped me roll out and make little gumdrop flowers.
Turning Three | InAnOrchard

We made gumdrop mushrooms and gumdrop grass,and especially gumdrop carrots.  The gummy carrots and frogs were by far your favorite.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

Turning Three | InAnOrchard

I made semi-homemade pizza (thank you Trader Joe’s for your yummy and inexpensive pizza dough!), because pizza is still your favorite dinner.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

After dinner you finally got to open the rest of your presents.Turning Three | InAnOrchard

You really got into the present openingTurning Three | InAnOrchard

We sang Happy Birthday loudly and you suddenly got a little shy.  The chocolate cake was enjoyed to it’s fullest, and got spread from ear to ear.Turning Three | InAnOrchardWe love you darling girl, you make us laugh everyday with your goofy smiles and funny phrases.

 

 

Scenes from Summer

Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

This nearly turned into a post-less summer.  But brace yourself my friend, you’re about to get 8 weeks worth of summer in one shot.  I hope it won’t feel too jumbled but we’re going to go heavy on the pictures and light on the words (just the way I like it). Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Grandpa W dusted off the boat and treated us to a day on the lake.  Which makes some of the best memories my kiddos have.  There’s just something magical about the lake, playing hard all afternoon, pulling the boat into the dock as the last bit of sunlight disappears and loading tired, happy kids into the van.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Summer mornings start in the garden with my girls, dirty feet, and buckets of water full of flowers.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

There have been outdoor parties with the cousins.
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We celebrated Father’s day with my Dad a little early this year before my parents headed back to their home in Oregon.  I think this might be one of my favorite pictures of him.  So typical, surrounded by eager children as he gushes over handmade cards and gifts.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

I insisted we take some photos since visits are fewer and farther between now.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We don’t do serious real wellScenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We spent a hot summer night at our sweet friends’ house eating homemade sourdough pizza…
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

….and hula hooping in the front yardScenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We visited the water park several times and the kids made themselves at home in the water, playing so hard, and snacking poolside in their swimsuits with their brown summer skin.Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Does it get more summer than this?Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Play hard all day, read all night
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Vases of flowers inspired art by Miss E, who has fallen in love with acrylic paints (which is fun and also tricky because watercolors are so much easier to clean up!)
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

The highlight of the summer could arguably be when Grandma W treated the grandchildren to an overnight stay at a cabin near Mt. Hermon.  For 5 days and 4 nights the grandkids took turns staying with Grandma at the cabin.  The first two nights the girls joined her, and the last two nights we switched the girls for the boys.  My sister-in-law Jessica and I drove up on Saturday to make the switch, and spent a lovely Saturday playing in the redwoods and swimming near a waterfall.  Grandpa W also came up so stay with Grandma and the boys.  Such wonderful memories of hiking, ice cream eating, and playing in the creek. Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

We also had our share of sickness this summer.  First sweet Miss P ran a high fever for a week solid.  When it became clear that this wasn’t a virus that was going to run it’s course, we made a doctor’s appointment.  Poor baby spent the better part of the day running a high fever, having blood drawn, and x-rays taken; only to find out she had Strep throat. Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Exactly one week later big sis came down with Strep too.  I was so bone weary of being confined to home, working hard to keep the girls comfortable and trying desperately to keep the rest of the family from getting sick.  Thankfully only the girls ended up getting sick and summer life could finally resume. Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

I never get tired of seeing fresh flowers and eggs in the kitchen.
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Justin took another week-long trip to France and this little girl missed him tremendously (we all did but Miss P especially needs her morning snuggles with dad)Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

Our ray of sunshine turned three, but that deserves a post of it’s own
Scenes from Summer | InAnOrchard

See you soon my friends, so much so catch up on, happy changes for our family…but more on that later (wasn’t that a rotten way to end a post :-) )

Mars Party

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard

Mars Party | InAnOrchard My G loves astronomy so we frequently check the Sky Watching calendars to see what interesting things might be seen in our own backyard.  We hosted a Super Moon Lunar Eclipse party back in the fall, and it was such a blast we decided to make it a habit.  Happily, on the first weekend of our summer break, Mars would be at it’s closest rotation to the earth and visible to the naked eye.  We decided to throw a big Mars Viewing Party with lots of food, a telescope, and bubbles and glow sticks for the kids.  We invited friends, neighbors, family and all total about 72 people dined on our back lawn that night.  Justin spent his evenings that week planning and prepping the menu.  We dined on brisket, and pulled pork sandwiches, kettle chips, Sweet Basil Salad, watermelon, my Mother-in-laws amazing baked beans, and every family brought a plate of cookies to share for dessert.  As the night descended and I stood on the porch looking out at all the faces talking and laugh, children chasing each other across the lawn with bubbles and glow sticks; I couldn’t help but think what a beautiful group of people we have surrounding our little family.  Little girls dangling their feet off the back porch, the warm hugs, the women who stood with me in my kitchen and laughed as we ushered food in and out of the kitchen…what a gift, what a precious gift.

Playing with Sourdough

Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

I’ve always enjoyed baking bread, even when I was a young girl.  I loved the taste of homemade bread so much that I taught myself how to bake it when I was just 13-years-old.  Over the years, I’ve made countless loaves of traditional white bread, Focaccia bread, dinner rolls, pizza dough, and honey wheat bread.  But this past winter I started tinkering around with sourdough baking.  I’ve been intrigued by sourdough for so long now, reading lots of recipes and articles, and I’ve watched way too many clips on Youtube.  I finally knuckled down and made my own starter from scratch.  I used the King Arthur Flour, sourdough starter recipe and I followed it to the letter.

The Week that Was | In An Orchard

It worked perfectly!  I did as they recommended and began my starter with rye flour (the wild yeasts and good bacteria like the heavier, more nutritious flours and that helps jump-start the starter) and by day three I had lots of gassy bubbles in my starter jar!  I was so ridiculously happy about it I walked all over the house showing it to Justin and the kids.  ”Look! Look!  I’ve got bubbles!”   After I got the starter going with the rye flour I switched and began to feed it whole wheat flour.  Eventually, (after I knew I had a nice colony of wild yeasts going strong) I converted my starter to white flour.

I’ve kept it fed and happy ever since (it’s about three and a half months old now).  Some weeks I leave it out on the counter and feed it daily, but on busy weeks I stick it in the fridge and mostly ignore it.

Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

One of my favorite sourdough recipes so far has been King Arthur Flour’s Buttery Sourdough Buns.  I love this recipe! They are so soft and tender with butter swirled in the middle and then brushed on top right before serving.  They have a more subtle sourdough flavor than a traditional sourdough loaf.  The brilliant thing about these roll is you can add what ever you want to the middle; think of it as a type of savory cinnamon roll.  I’ve added garlic infused butter with grated Parmesan cheese to the centers.  One of the people who commented on the original recipe, said they had added caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese to their buns.  Doesn’t that sounds insanely good!?
Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

I’ve made this recipe a half dozen times now and I’ve tweaked it just a little.  I increased the yeast to 4 teaspoons, and instead of spreading melted butter inside the swirls I used very soft butter.  Using the softened butter instead of melted butter, made it easier to roll the dough into a spiral shape.  I also made the mistake of rolling my spiral too tight the first time and the rolls didn’t rise properly.  They baked up so dense.  As frustrating as it was to loose an entire batch of rolls, is was an easy mistake to remedy.

Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

The one element of baking with sourdough that I had to adjust to, was measuring my flour by weight instead of volume.  Most of the time when I bake I use measuring cups for my dry ingredients, but I’ve found that most sourdough recipes need more precise measurements.  Getting the dough properly hydrated is important and I ruined a batch because I added too much flour.  I stole Justin’s small digital food scale and I use it to measure out my flour in ounces.   I haven’t had any trouble since I started weighing the flour.

Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

I hope I’m not scaring you.  It’s a friendly recipe I promise!  It makes 18 of the most delicious dinner rolls you’ve ever eaten.  So soft and tender with just the perfect amount of tang.Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

I have yet to tackle any artisanal bread like baguettes or boules; I’ve stuck with simpler recipes like dinner rolls, sandwich loaf bread, and these amazingly good waffles!  I found the recipe herePlaying with Sourdough | InAnOrchardNext on my list of sourdough recipes to try is this Roasted Garlic Rustic Sourdough Boule.   I think I’m up for the challenge ;)

If you’re interested in experimenting with your own sourdough starter I really do recommend  King Arthur Flour’s sourdough starter recipe, as well as their article about maintaining and using your starter. And if you’d like to be completely inspired by an amazing baker you should check out Alchemy Bread Co’s Instagram feed.  Bonnie’s bread is gorgeous!  She carves beautiful designs in the top of her sourdough boules, and she shapes the most interesting baguettes I’ve ever seen.   Oh, and if you have any sourdough recipes you love or any tips I’d love to hear them!

Happy Baking!  April

 

We Ran Away

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchardWe ran away together.  To the sleepy little town of Mendocino which is happily situated between the towering coastal Redwood forests and the rocky shoreline of the Pacific Ocean.  It is a town full of Inns, weathered water towers, tiny shops, paths lined with dark Cyprus trees, and one small cemetery with tilting headstones that looks so lovely in the last of the evening light.

We ate leisurely breakfasts, attempted to sleep in (which neither of us is very good at these days), walked under Redwoods next to winding creeks, read library books, stayed up late eating chocolate covered pretzels and watching movies, took so many pictures, wandered around the Mendocino headlands, and three days later came home to our 4 favorite little people.